MBB: Departures scramble 2010–’11 roster

ISU forward Craig Brackins dunks the ball in the second half of the game against Nebraska on Feb. 24. Brackins will found out his NBA future Thursday night during the NBA Draft at 6 p.m.

File photo: Tim Reuter/Iowa State Daily

ISU forward Craig Brackins dunks the ball in the second half of the game against Nebraska on Feb. 24. Brackins will found out his NBA future Thursday night during the NBA Draft at 6 p.m.

Chris Cuellar —

Another transformation of the Cyclone basketball program under coach Greg McDermott became complete when Iowa State students were on their way to beach and home vacations.

Undergoing yet another facelift at the tail end of the tumultuous Big 12 season, the Iowa State men’s basketball team announced three major departures on the Friday afternoon before spring break began.

Leading scorer, All-Big 12 player and junior forward Craig Brackins plans to leave the team to enter the NBA Draft, and sophomore center Justin Hamilton and sophomore guard Dominique Buckley plan to transfer to play basketball elsewhere.

Brackins averaged 16.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game in his junior season with the Cyclones, garnering Second Team All-Big 12 honors but dropping off from his 2009 averages. By announcing that he is in the process of hiring an agent, his career as a college athlete is complete. Brackins is in Kansas City to follow the ISU women’s basketball team in the Big 12 Tournament and plans to provide a statement to the media Friday evening, but had this to say in a press release:

“I really enjoyed my experience at Iowa State. The fan support and love I received from the Ames community, my coaching staff and the ISU fans will always be something I treasure. I want to thank the coaching staff for helping me with this decision, and I will always be a Cyclone.”

The 6-foot-10-inch forward surprised critics by announcing his return to Iowa State in April of 2009, and is currently listed as a late first-round pick by ESPN.com. Combined with departures and an urge for a new challenge, Brackins will be continue working out in preparation for the NBA Draft Combine and other possible workout invitations. Despite a third consecutive losing record, the junior stayed positive.

“I felt like we had the team to do some things, and unfortunately some people departing from the team and unfortunate things that happened to the team led to things not going our way,” said Brackins, during the ISU women’s Big 12 Tournament game in Kansas City. “But I’ll never regret my decision to come back for my junior year.”

“Craig has been the face of our basketball program for the last two seasons and has always represented ISU in a first-class manner,” McDermott said. “We certainly are excited to see him thrive as a professional next season.”

Hamilton improved for the Cyclones in his sophomore season, tallying an average of 7.9 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. He expressed an interest to play closer to home as his reason for leaving the team. The starting center for McDermott’s 2009–’10 squad, Hamilton is an Alpine, Utah, native and was granted his request for release Friday.

Buckley was a reserve guard that saw action in 7.4 minutes per contest for the Cyclones this season, and tallied 27 assists in the season.

“Dominique is seeking a school where he can receive more playing time,” McDermott said.

Brackins had been widely considered as a potential departure from this year’s team, but with a crowded backcourt and transition within the program, Buckley and Hamilton saw it fit to leave just two days after the Big 12 Tournament loss to Texas.

Brackins’ fellow forward and the leading rebounder on the 2009-’10 team Marquis Gilstrap wasn’t granted another year of action just hours before the Texas game, denied an appeal from the NCAA.

All of the departures from the 2009–’10 team combined, guards Diante Garrett (9.7 ppg) and Scott Christopherson (8.3 ppg) will be the only returning starters. LaRon Dendy and Chris Colvin —­ two players who have just completed their first year with the Cyclones — are the only other two scholarship players returning that were active by the end of this season.

Bench players Jamie Vanderbeken and Charles Boozer had season ending injuries that kept them off the floor for most of the season, and they expect to be healthy when the 2010–’11 season tips off.

McDermott and his staff have three players expected to join the team, and has said he expects a different type of performance than the one fans saw during the time Brackins was on the floor for the Cyclones.

“Next year will be much different than this year’s team. We probably aren’t going to have a guy that is going to average 17 or 18 points a game, but I think the balance will be much better,” McDermott said. “We’ll put a team together that will play together, remain unselfish and really care about wearing the Iowa State uniform.”

Iowa State is 59–68 in four years under Greg McDermott, and 18–50 in Big 12 play during that time.

Jordan Wickstrom contributed to this article.